Minister for Social Protection Éamon Ó Cuív has rejected criticisms of reductions in supports for children and people with disabilities announced in the Budget.
He said compensating welfare recipients for cuts in Child Benefit would have damaged other welfare schemes substantially.
The minister also said that if he had exempted disabled people - including the blind - from the across-the-board reduction, a much heavier burden would have fallen on the remainder of welfare recipients.
Ahead of today's Social Welfare Bill debate, Minister Ó Cuív emphasised to journalists that the State Pension for people over 65 had been spared Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's scalpel.
But he was criticised by the 'Poor Can't Pay Coalition' for overturning last year's precedent of compensating the unemployed, the sick and lone parents for reductions in Child Benefit.
He replied that finding €50m to fund this would have damaged other welfare schemes substantially.
Instead, he had taken a 'middle road' by maintaining the value of the top-up payment to the categories concerned that is designed to support children.
Meanwhile, Inclusion Ireland said the disabled had been easy targets, enduring an €850 cut in their annual allowance since 2008.
Echoing this, the National Council for the Blind also expressed disappointment at the 4% reduction in the weekly Blind Pension to €188.
But Mr Ó Cuív replied that if he had exempted the huge number getting Invalidity and Blind Pensions and the Disability Allowance from the general 4% reduction, a much heavier burden would have fallen on the remainder of welfare recipients.